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Grain facility races to finish

The new Cargill grain storage facility outside of Emery is pictured Thursday from the southeast. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)1 / 3
The $19 million grain facility outside of Emery is scheduled to be finished by Nov. 1, Cargill AgHorizons Regional Manager Dennis Inman said. The facility is pictured here from the north on Thursday. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)2 / 3
Work continued Thursday on the new $19 million grain handling facility south of Emery. The Cargill facility is behind schedule but is scheduled to be fully finished by Nov. 1. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)3 / 3

EMERY — A $19 million grain-handling facility in Emery will be open for harvest, even though the project is behind schedule.

The 5.2-million-bushel grain and storage facility was announced in December 2013 and was scheduled to be completed for the 2014 harvest. Cargill AgHorizons Regional General Manager Dennis Inman said the facility might not operate at full speed until Nov. 1, but said he's hopeful the facility can start taking grain in about 10 days.

"We've slipped a little bit," he said. "We're probably two or three weeks behind schedule, which is not where we want to be. But I think we're going to be to the point where we can get grain in the building in the next 10 days or so and at least get that part of it going."

Considering that harvesting is beginning to move into full swing and some soybeans are being moved, Inman said the delay in opening is unfortunate. But he said they expect to get plenty of traffic once they're going full speed.

"We're going to have the space, and with the price where it's at right now, we might see farmers hold their grain a little longer before selling," he said. "Regardless, I think we're looking at very good yields in that area."

Inman recently took over the regional general manager position in Sioux Falls. He said the facility will be a good addition to an area that continues to boom with agricultural growth.

"Yields and production has continued to grow in South Dakota and there's been a lot of investment in grain systems and moving our product," he said. "It's a great link to exports to the Pacific Northwest and a way to link the destination with the producer."

Inman said much of the product that comes through Emery and other similar grain handling facilities will go to the Pacific Northwest and eventually Chinese markets.

"There's a very consistent demand for soybeans in China," he said. "Corn in China is a little more off and on but for many area farmers, the primary market out of South Dakota is to the Northwest and then on from there."

This week, crews were working on the roof and had staked out one of the driveways into the facility, waiting for concrete to be poured. The bulk of the facility's storage is on flat ground, rather than traditional, mostly-vertical steel or concrete grain bins. The covered storage building is 550 feet long by 300 feet wide, or about the length of one and a half football fields.

The building is 98 feet tall at its highest point, according to Dwight Berens, the facility manager in Emery.

That type of building is the most cost-effective for Cargill at Emery because the facility's use is directed at grain receiving at harvest and shipping out of the facility throughout the year.

"We probably will only empty the building once per year," Inman said.

The facility is set to include a grain-drying system, three large wet grain storage bins and overhead truck load-out bins dual truck scales. It will also include a large capacity receiving leg that will be twice the speed of the current unloading speed compared to Cargill's current elevator complex in Emery, which is located on State Highway 262 in the center of town.

The two Cargill facilities will be within a mile of each other, and the majority of the drying will take place at the new site, which is located on 429th Avenue.

"A bit of it was the weather and some of it was just construction delays that we're just sort of out of our control and can happen," Inman said. "But I don't think anyone in South Dakota is going to turn away the rain when we have the chance to get it."